« AnteriorContinuar »
certainly more to be found than I can here produce, or would presume to understand. As there are many wonders in Nature, into which no eye can penetrate, so can we discern but in part the manifold wisdom of God in the inexhaustible treasures of his word.
Such occurrences, as I am about to produce, are no where more observable and abundant than in the history of our Saviour's birth, and of his passion. His birth was witnessed by the appearance of a new star; to signify that a new light was come into the world, such as had never appeared before: and it was observed, and followed by wise men from the East, as a prelude to his reception by the Gentiles; while the people of his own country saw nothing, and when he came had no room for him. All the disadvantageous circumstances, under which the blessed Infant was found, prevented not the adoration of those men, who had been conducted to him by this heavenly light; as no offence will be taken against any part of the Christian plan by those whom the grace of God hath guided to it, and who see his _word as a new light risen upon the world.
Our Saviour was born upon a journey, and at an inn; to shew, that he was to be a stranger and a sojourner upon earth, as all his fathers,
the,. the holy patriarchs, were before him; and as all his disciples are called to be after him.
Shepherds, watching their flocks in the field by night, were selected as proper persons to receive the glad tidings of his birth. Their office represents that of the ministers of God, who are to make known abroad what is told them from heaven: and those shepherds will always have the preference, who are found in their office, watching over their flocks.
Even the time of the year in which our Saviour was born was not without its meaning. This happened on the night when the sun passed the winter solstice, and was returning to bring back the increasing light of the spring. The birth of John the Baptist had happened six months earlier; at the season when the sun begins to shorten the days, and his light is daily decreasing., These two seasons are respectively agreeable to the characters of the two persons, and the event of their ministry: with a view to which, it was predicted of both by the Baptist himself, he must increase, but I must decrease*. If we go from the season of his birth to that of his passion, most of the circumstances, preparatory to it and attending it, have their propriety and signification: of which one single u 4 fact
* John iii. 30.
fact will be sufficient to convince us. For, as his birth was witnessed by a new star lighted up in the heavens; so at his passion the light of the day was extinguished at noon, and gave its testimony, that He was the true light who was then expiring upon the cross at Jerusalem.
The disciples were directed to the house where the passover of the Lord's supper was to be eaten, by a man bearing a pitcher of water*, whom they were to follow, and where he entered they were to enter and make ready. The same direction will serve to the end of the world: for where the water of baptism is found with the living waters of the word and spirit of God, there is the house of God, and there are his mysteries to be celebrated: as, on the other hand, where there is no baptism, there is no church, nor can be any supper of the Lord.
The agony of our Saviour in a garden, and the treason of Judas there committed, and his burial in a garden, where he appeared after his resurrection, and was taken for the gardener of the place, are so many natural signs, which refer us back to the garden where that sin began, which brought him to his sufferings. The wood of his cross, which is called a tree\, upon which he bare our sins, answers to the fatal
tree * Mark xiv. 13. f 1 Pet. ii. 24.
tree of Paradise which brought sin into the world: the one tree was the instrument of out ruin, the other of our salvation. It was, therefore, ordained, that Jesus Christ should suffer death under the Roman power, and not under the Jewish. When the Jews refused to put him to death in their own way, (which would have been by stoning) out of flattery to the Roman governor they ignorantly contributed to the great plan of Providence, and proved Jesus Christ to be the true Saviour, who died for Adam's sin. Thus will it ever happen: the perverse ways of man shall fulfil the righteous designs of God. The crown of thorns, which they put upon his head, was another mark to the same effect, and shewed him to be the person upon whom the curse of our sin was transferred. This case is singular; the history of mankind does not inform us that this act of cruel mockery was ever practised upon any other sufferer, except of late, amidst the murderous executions in that devoted country, France; where, as We are told, one poor sufferer was crowned with thorns, and treated with the indignities peculiar to the death of Jesus Christ.
The whole race of mankind, for whom Christ
suffered, are divided into the two parties of
Jews and Gentiles; frequently signified by two
4 individual individual persons. To represent these, two malefactors suffered with him; of whom one, a pattern of the Gentiles, repented of his error, glorified a suffering Saviour, and received a promise of being taken into Paradise: while the other, like the Jews, went on reviling him, and, in the insolent language of the Jews, bade him save himself. The rending of the veil of the temple, when he gave up the ghost, was a sign that his death was the removing of that partition which excludes man from the residence of God, and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. As to the place or spot on which he suffered death, we suppose it to have happened on that very mountain (Moriah) where Isaac had been offered up by Abraham, as a prelude to his death and resurrection; according to the words of a prophecy founded on that event, which ftrictly signify, in this mountain the Lord will provide *; i.e. will provide that true lamb for a sacrifice, which shall take away the sins of the World. Certain it is, his death happened without the gate of Jerusalem, as the sacrifice was carried without the camp to be burned; to shew, in a figure, how he should be rejected as an alien and an outcast by his own people, and delivered over to the Gentiles. The apostle, in